Osgoode suspends classes due to TA strike

All classes are suspended at York University today including those held at Osgoode Hall Law School due to the strike of 3,700 teaching assistants and contract workers who are part of CUPE Local 3903.

While libraries, cafeterias, and computer labs remain open, all classes and exams are suspended, excluding online and off-site classes.

“We are working closely with our students, faculty and staff to address the range of issues that arise in light of the labour disruption, and we appreciate the significant anxiety this can give rise to among students,” said Osgoode dean Lorne Sossin, told Legal Feeds.

He further noted, “We also have CUPE 3903 members within our community and appreciate the different challenges they face during a strike as well. We very much hope there is a successful settlement soon and that the disruption will have minimal impact on our program and our community.”

According to the official Q&A statement released by the dean’s office to all Osgoode students, disruption of final exams and graduation dates will depend on the length of the strike. York will be updating strike info here.

Students are not required to cross the picket line. At this time, the Osgoode senate executive has officially decided on “a short class disruption,” which is a suspension that is less than seven days.

In a letter written to the dean’s office yesterday, Jeffrey Hernaez, chairman of the Osgoode law student caucus, outlined concerns over the potential impact the strike may have on students.

“Given how late it is in the term, students are extremely concerned about how this disruption will impact the timing and completion of their studies this year. More specifically, third year students are concerned about graduating on time so they may write licensing exams and commence articling, while first and second year students wish to start summer opportunities as scheduled,” he wrote.

Law school classes at the University of Toronto have not been affected by the strike. All three U of T campuses remain open and operational.

“My understanding is that the strike does not have a significant impact on the law school, which continues to operate,” says Natalie Lum-Tai, president of the University of Toronto Students’ Law Society.

Lum-Tai said while the law school does not employ TAs, the strike might affect law students who work as TAs or markers for other departments.

The SLS has directed students to information provided by the Provost’s Office, which confirms that students opposed to crossing picket lines cannot be penalized for their choice. Students remain responsible for all course material and fulfilling their course requirements.

While there are no exams for law students right now, there are JD/MBA students who will be doing midterms at the Rotman School of Business later this month.

CUPE 3903 chairman Faiz Ahmed says 40 per cent of its membership rejected the final offer on Monday by 71 per cent.

“For us that meant our option was to call for labour stoppage and strike,” says Ahmed. “We have mandated the bargaining team to go back to the bargaining table. They reached out to the university yesterday and my understanding is they will be meeting again on Thursday. We don’t think we are very far apart.”

Ahmed says the whole issue is hinging on contract faculty.

“It’s not ever been this prominent in the university sector, and part of it is that the stats have finally caught up with the times — 64 per cent of all teaching work is done by contract faculty at York and 60 per cent at U of T is done by contract faculty.”

With files from Jennifer Brown.

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